Malzahn, Graham Stop In

SPRINGDALE — Less than four miles from the two high schools he coached at in Northwest Arkansas, Gus Malzahn strolled into Jose's Southwest Grille on Monday.

Under bright sun on the restaurant's back patio, Tulsa's first-year offensive coordinator donned a blue polo shirt and mingled with curious Arkansans. Some signed up for season tickets, adding to the 69 people with Arkansas addresses who already had ordered, according to the Tulsa ticket office.

Most, though, showed up out of curiosity. For first-year coach Todd Graham, who joined Malzahn in Springdale, the early-evening get-together was just one of an endless string of marketing events.

"I've spoken at 60-some events since I accepted the job," Graham said. "Right now, we're expanding our fan base one handshake at a time.

"Naturally, Gus' ties here and the fact that it's so close to Tulsa (brought us here)."

Ever since Malzahn left Arkansas in January, the future of the former Shiloh Christian and Springdale High coach has intrigued many fans in this area. Malzahn was named the nation's top offensive coordinator by Rivals.com after one season in Fayetteville. And then, he was gone.

Graham said he got his No. 1 choice as offensive coordinator and couldn't wait for people to see the Golden Hurricane's spread, no-huddle offense. Malzahn seemed equally enthused about the fall and expressed his desire to make Tulsa a regular player in the competition for Arkansas' most-talented athletes.

Malzahn said Tulsa already had built a decent foundation for recruiting Arkansas.

"I remember their recruiter coming over every year," Malzahn said. "I used to take my teams at Springdale and Shiloh (Christian) to the team camps over at Tulsa."

Malzahn enjoyed the chance to catch up with friends, as well; he and Graham had lunch with some of Malzahn's friends at Neal's Cafe in Springdale. The personal part of having to move was hard throughout the process of going from Razorback to Golden Hurricane, Malzahn said.

"It's been very busy," Malzahn said. "The fact that my daughter stayed here and finished school was tough. It's tough to be away from your family. But I love the state. I love Arkansas. I have lot of friends still here. And it's only an hour and a half away, so it's very convienient to be working there."

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